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06.03.2020

Bergen Museum - The Cultural History Collections

Anthropology

Ethnographic objects are artefacts which have been collected from indigenous communities around the world. This material found their way to Bergens Museum as early as the first decade after its establishment in 1825.

County court judge Wilhelm Frimann Koren Christie, who founded the Museum, was a keen collector and registered items by his own hand in the acquisition catalogue. This catalogue, dated 1848, still exists, and represents one of the collection’s many treasures.

To day, the collection consists of more than 10 000 objects from all parts of the world. Ongoing, current research carried out by the conservators is linked to development issues in Africa and Oceania, and to universal problem-oriented approaches about man’s relationship to things; within technology, art, and ritualised behaviour.

The anthropological section is also responsible for the exhibition "Eternal Life – Treasures of Ancient Egypt". The exhibition has received national and international media attention lately due to spooky mysteries. To find additional information about the exhibition, please use the menu on the right of the screen.

Archaeology

The Cultural History Collections at Bergen Museum has a large collection of archaeological materials and also comprehensive archaeological archives.

The archaeological part of the collections is divided into one prehistoric collection localised at Haakon Sheteligsplass 10 and a medieval collection housed in Bryggens Museum. The collection has a staff of six archaeologists.

Activities include systematisation and conservation of material already extant in the Museum’s collections, and to utilise this for research and public outreach. In addition, the collection obtains material from the yearly on-site inspections carried out by regional county authorities and from excavation activities at Bergen Museum.

Art and cultural history

Right from the start of Bergens Museum’s foundation in 1825, the church art of the Middle Ages in Norway was at the centre of the museum’s immediate attention The church art is remnants of the Catholic cult. Also the coin and medal collection was established and developed further from the Museum’s early days. In the later 19th century, post-reformation church art also came into focus. Moreover, the national interest in Norway’s own history and culture led to an enhanced effort, and in the continuation of this interest in national folk tradition, a collection of Norwegian costume and textile material was launched.

According to ICOM statutes, Article 2.1 (1989), it is the unit’s (as well as Bergen Museum’s) responsibility to collect, that is, supplement the collections or to establish new collections, and to ensure that the artefact material is preserved properly. This implies that when seen necessary, the material is handed over to the conservation unit for research, and for the passing on of new knowledge and research outcomes of the objects.

Object based research is a central issue for a museum. It is important that the object material is not seen isolated, but explicitly by way of research related to a wider cultural and historical context. Other than knowing its material thoroughly in terms of impulses, production and distribution, the unit’s research aim is to achieve contextual and international interpretations of the object material viewed from usage, practices, conventions, transformation processes and ideologies.

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